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Dharavi is going to be digital


By Hello Mumbai Team:

(Indian institute of technology Bombay powai)

In an exemplary attempt to bridge the barrier between emerging technology and emergent users through a bottom up approach, students of the Industrial Design Center (IDC) in IIT Bombay, in collaboration with Swansea University in UK, have developed a ‘physical web’ for residents of Dharavi in Mumbai to help them promote their business. This is part of Google’s Internet of Things Technology Research Award.

As part of the project, 100 devices called ‘beacons’ provided by Google are being deployed in Dharavi. In the the first phase of this plan, 30 shops in Dharavi’s markets are being connected to the physical web through these beacons.
Customers having smart phones are advised to keep bluetooth, location and internet data ‘On’ and turn on the physical web/ nearby settings in the Chrome browser. When a customer is in the proximity of any such beacon-enabled shop, the customer will get a notification in his smart phone via bluetooth. They can then browse through all the products available there through an interactive interface. Thus, the customer gets an overview of the products that all the shops in Dharavi have. This will help the customer make an informed choice.
This enhanced shopping experience hopes to not only boost the customer-seller relation but also attract more buyers to the markets of Dharavi. In the greater scheme of things, this will bring a change in the way Dharavi is perceived.
Dharavi, once considered a slum with narrow lanes, has now blossomed in to a self-sustained informal economy. The dense population of around one million generates a guesstimated USD 1 billion annually! Industries that work in the domain include leather, garment, recycling, pottery, etc.
Student Chinmay Parab explained, “Most new technologies, at inception, are exclusive and cater to only those who can afford the technology. We questioned ‘Can we use technologies that cater to the wealthy for ones who really need it?’ This technology of ‘Internet of Things’ will provide the population in the resource-constrained environment of Dharavi an exposure to vast possibilities”.
The Google IoT Research Award gives students access to 100 beacon devices designed to allow any smart device to interact with real-world objects — in this case, shops in Dharavi —without having to download specific applications. The IoT Research Award was announced in February 2016. Prof. Matt Jones of Swansea University and Prof. Anirudha Joshi of IDC had applied for this topic as a collaborative project. This project, in the month of May, was selected for the pilot for the research award, wherein we conduct an experiment on a small scale.
For conducting these experiments in Dharavi, Google has been providing the hardware support in the form of BLE Beacons (Quantity 100). Once the experiments have been conducted, team members will submit feedback and report. Follow-up grants and in-kind support is expected from Google. This research award is to explore the possibilities in the domain of Internet of Things with the help of platforms and protocols developed by Google.


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